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Smart Advice: Database Server Consolidation Helps Reduce Cost Of Oracle Licenses

Look at business needs and calculate CPU processing capacity before consolidating databases, The Advisory Council says. Also, as companies are being swamped with unmanageable amounts of information, information life-cycle management holds promise for helping deal with the problem.

Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers two questions of core interest to you, ranging from career advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to smartadvice@tacadvisory.com


Question A: How can we reduce the costs of Oracle licenses?

Our advice: Oracle products are licensed using either 'Named User Plus' model or 'Per Processor' model. For a database with more than 1,000 users, the 'Per Processor' model is usually more cost effective. If the 'Per Processor' model is adopted, then the number of CPUs on the hardware server determines the cost of an Oracle database license.

How many CPUs are sufficient to run your databases while maintaining robust performance? On a Unix platform, there are various tools, such as vmstat, top, and sar, that provide you with information on CPU usage and system load average. Use the combination of CPU usage and load average to determine the CPU capacity of your machine. If there's available CPU processing capacity, then reducing the number of CPUs on the machine or migrating additional databases to the server should be considered to reduce costs of Oracle licenses.

In an enterprise data center, consolidating databases onto fewer machines is usually a practical way to achieve cost savings on Oracle licenses. However, there may be business and architectural issues that need to be addressed when you're planning a database-server consolidation. Accurately define business requirements and develop the technical solutions that are most suitable in meeting those requirements. Also, characteristics of your applications need to be considered. Online transaction processing applications shouldn't share the same server with online analytical processing or data-warehouse applications.

Compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley is another factor driving Oracle database consolidation. When validating compliance with licensing agreements, if you discover that you're under-paying your Oracle license obligation, consolidating databases or re-architecting application infrastructure may avoid buying more licenses to meet licensing requirements.


Related Links

Oracle Price Lists

SmartAdvice: Renegotiating Software Licenses


If you also use the Oracle Internet Application Server, then the savings could be greater. Make sure you implement a physical three-tiered architecture to separate Application Servers from Oracle database servers. The Oracle Internet Application Server three-tiered architecture isn't only easy to implement, but also handles load balancing and failover well. The failover feature can greatly improve availability of enterprise systems. Load balancing can further optimize resource usage and reduce operating costs.

Database consolidation is a smart way to reduce Oracle license costs. The result isn't only reduction in software licensing and maintenance fees, but also a potential decrease in support-staff requirements, elimination of inefficient processing, and optimization of system performance.

-- Bin Weng

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